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Alexander Zverev is aiming for his third Roland Garros quarter-final appearance when he faces Kei Nishikori on Sunday.

Preview: Zverev & Nishikori Vying For ‘Five-Set King’ Crown

Tsitsipas, Medvedev also in action as QF spots up for grabs

Sixth seed Alexander Zverev has never lost a five-set match at Roland Garros. His fourth-round opponent, Kei Nishikori, owns the best five-set record among all active players. Both players have proven they know how to go the distance, but only one five-set king can reign supreme in Paris when the two meet on Day 8 on Court Philippe-Chatrier. 

Zverev will take a 4-1 ATP Head2Head lead into their Sunday match-up, with three of those previous matches going the distance – including their most recent meeting in Rome a few weeks ago, won by Zverev. The German also defeated Nishikori at the Mutua Madrid Open en route to the title.

Tennis-Point

In Paris, Zverev had to find his rhythm early on as he faced qualifier Oscar Otte and was locked into a five-set marathon. But he came out on top, rallying from two sets down – and sealing the fifth set to love for good measure – in his 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 win. He extended his record in five-setters at Roland Garros to 7-0 (16-7 overall).

“I felt comfortable today on court,” Zverev said after his 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 win over Laslo Djere in the second round. “It's getting important, because the matches are getting tougher. The opponents are getting tougher. I feel like now is the time where you need to start playing your best tennis to get through.”

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If there’s anyone who can bring the fight to Zverev in extra innings it’s Nishikori, who has won 10 the past 11 five-set matches he’s played at Grand Slams. The Japanese player, who is going for his 100th Grand Slam win on Sunday, owns a 78.7 per cent win rate in five-setters, according to Infosys ATP Stats.

Best Five-Set Records (Active Players)

 Player  Five-Set Record  Winning%
 1) Kei Nishikori  26-7  78.7%
 2) Tommy Robredo  17-5  77.3%
 3) Novak Djokovic  33-10  76.7%
 4) David Goffin  13-5  72.2%
 5) Feliciano Lopez  25-11  69.4%

Nishikori has already played two epic marathons in Paris, going the distance against Alessandro Giannessi in the first round, and recording a 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win to knock out 23rd seed Karen Khachanov in the second. Nishikori got a small reprieve on his way to the fourth round after qualifier Henri Laaksonen was forced to retire after the first set. 

“My body said no, but my mind just [said] keep playing,” Nishikori said after his three-hour and 59-minute win over Khachanov. “It makes [it] tough, playing four hours two [matches] in a row. I'm aiming to [be in] the final, and this is not the best start of the tournament. That's the only thing I don't like [about playing five sets]. I feel like I’ve played five matches already.”

A strong start – and razor-sharp focus throughout – will be the key for Zverev and Nishikori as they seek a spot in the quarter-finals. Nishikori (9 hrs) has already spent an hour and 36 minutes longer on court than Zverev (7 hrs, 24 min), and both players will hope to avoid another lengthy battle in Paris. The winner will next face either Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or Federico Delbonis, who will be in action on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will lead the Chatrier day session as he takes on 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta. The Greek player owns a 2-0 ATP Head2Head lead over Carreno Busta, including a win on clay courts from Barcelona in 2018.

The Spaniard opened his clay-court campaign with a victory at the ATP 250 event in Marbella (d. Munar), and backed it up with a run to the semi-finals in Barcelona, falling to eventual champion Rafael Nadal

“I think that my level is going up. I am feeling very comfortable on court,” Carreno Busta said after taking down Steve Johnson to reach the third round. “I know that in the next round I play against Tsitsipas… the first one in the [FedEx ATP] Race To Turin. So [it] will be [an] interesting match. Very tough, for sure. But why not? I am playing good. I just lost one set in the three matches.”

Carreno Busta has indeed been red hot on the terre battue, but he’ll be in for a battle against Tsitsipas, who leads the ATP Tour with 19 clay-court match wins on the season (alongside Delbonis). The Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion has also dropped only one set en route to the fourth round after navigating past big-serving John Isner 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-1 on Friday night.   

Second seed Daniil Medvedev will hope to continue his progress in Paris as he meets experienced clay-courter Cristian Garin on Lenglen for a spot in the quarter-finals against the winner of Tsitsipas-Carreno Busta.

Medvedev, who arrived in Paris with an 0-4 record at Roland Garros – and a vocal distaste for clay-court tennis – has made a sea change this fortnight after claiming wins over Alexander Bublik, Tommy Paul and Reilly Opelka.

“[Your] beliefs, they can change. When I was young I never ate fish, I hated it. Now I love raw tuna,” Medvedev reflected after his win over Opelka. “I like the things I'm good at. This year I'm enjoying myself [at] Roland Garros. I don't hide it. I'm really enjoying [it].”

The Russian will try to taste victory once again as he faces Garin, who lifted his fifth ATP Tour trophy in Santiago earlier this year – all of his titles have come on clay courts. Medvedev and Garin are level at 1-1 in their ATP Head2Head, with the Chilean defeating Medvedev earlier this season in Madrid.

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